Suicide in the Media
Last week, the world mourned the losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These two creative, smart, and successful individuals died by suicide within days of each other. Each time a celebrity suicide or death by overdose occurs, it sparks a nationwide discussion about mental health. However, this discussion seems to only last a few days and then is pushed aside for other news stories.
I have a lot of discussions with friends, colleagues, and clients about the impact of celebrity deaths on us "normal" people. I've never met Anthony Bourdian, but I felt very sad in response to the news that he had died. I very much enjoyed watching his television shows and have been inspired to travel and meet different kinds of people. because of his work. We saw the creative, funny, and "happy" side of Bourdain. What we didn't see was the pain, anguish, and sadness he was experiencing.
Celebrities aren't the only ones who are good at hiding when they're depressed or having suicidal thoughts. I'm sure that most people reading this have had a family member, friend, or coworker who was experiencing depression or anxiety and hid it quite well. So, how can we help our loved ones struggling if we don't even know that they're struggling in the first place?
I think that the first thing we need to do is remove the stigma around mental illness. If somebody has diabetes, cancer, or high cholesterol, they go to the doctor. We need to treat mental health concerns in the same way. Somebody struggling with depression or anxiety may feel nervous or self-conscious about going to a counselor. That stigma, while unfortunately, a reality, is something I want gone. That's easier said than done, sure, but something I want to work towards as a therapist each day.
If you know that a loved one is struggling, reach out to them. Invite them to dinner or to see a movie. It can be awkward to talk about their inner most thoughts and feelings, but you don't necessarily have to do that. Just be a companion. Isolation is a symptom of depressive disorders.
If you yourself are struggling with mental health concerns, please know that there are many, many people who want to help you. There are countless mental health services for folks that are struggling that include individual counseling, group counseling, and psychiatric care. The world is better with you in it and the goal is to help you realize that.